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Breaking Testing Culture

September 24, 2019

We would like to thank the New York City Council Committee on Education for holding this important oversight hearing on Breaking Testing Culture: Evaluating multiple pathways to determine student mastery.

We testify today to highlight the need for more equitable and meaningful ways for all students, including students with disabilities, to be evaluated on mastery of topics and indicators of college and career readiness. The determination of a student’s mastery and/or ability to graduate should be based on the results of multiple types of performance assessments, not just the results of standardized tests, such as the Regents exams. 

New York State is one of only eleven states in the country that require students to pass an exit exam in order to graduate. Regents exams should not be the only criteria in deciding who gets to receive a diploma. Many students with disabilities in New York City struggle with passing the five Regents exams or approved alternatives despite knowing the content well and having competitive GPAs.

INCLUDEnyc (formerly Resources for Children with Special Needs) has worked with hundreds of thousands of individuals since our founding 36 years ago, helping them navigate the complex special education service and support systems, so that young people with disabilities can be included in all aspects of New York City life.

Over the years, we have directly helped many families and young people with disabilities and we have seen countless students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) not receive Regents diplomas. Typical reasons include the lack of available Regents instruction or individualized academic support for students with IEPs. Often we have seen these students failing a Regents exam by merely a couple points, denying them a diploma in New York.

We believe there should be more flexibility in how students are assessed. We recommend Performance Based-Assessments (PBAs) for students that maintain the same high academic standards as Regents exams, but allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and mastery based on their individual learning style.  PBAs assess students in different ways, such as writing research papers, oral presentations, performing arts, or compiling a portfolio. Including objectively reviewed PBAs for student assessment in New York will help close the twenty-four percent graduation gap between general education students and students with disabilities in the City.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these important matters. We look forward to working with you to improve equity and access for all students with disabilities in New York City. 


Barbara A. Glassman

Executive Director